FEBRUARY 6, 2009
The thoughts and motivations of President Max
For much of the last year Max Mosley has stayed out of the limelight in Formula 1, after the bizarre sex scandal that threatened his position as FIA President in March last year. Mosley believes that the aim of that scandal was to remove him from office and says that he believes he knows who organised it. It is clear that he has revenge in mind when he gets conclusive evidence of what happened and he seems sure that he will find it, but he does not know when.
The scandal has now passed and Mosley is obviously feeling more secure in his position. At the time he said that he would stand down from his position in 2009 but now he thinks that he may stay on if the FIA membership wants him to stay. He says that people are saying he should stay.
Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?
The next few months will reveal whether there will be any opposition, but one can expect if there is a challenge, that it will done out of the limelight. Support will be canvassed and pledges made and if a challenger can gather enough support then the rest of the organisation will fall in behind him - such is the way in federations, where no-one wants to support a loser. If that happens Mosley will decide to retire and will probably propose his replacement. That will be neat and tidy. If the challenger fails, we will probably hear nothing.
For the time-being, however, Mosley seems to be concentrating on reforming Formula 1, which he believes is facing the biggest crisis in its history. His aim is to bring down the costs to around $65m and to turn the sport into a profit centre for the teams. In that way he will be able to guarantee continued manufacturer involvement in the sport and still have budgets low enough to allow new blood to break in. Mosley believes that the budget cap is the best way to achieve this, but he doubts that the teams will accept it without a fight.
"The scope for getting the costs down is huge and we can get the cost down further and no one except for a real anorak in the pit lane would know the difference," Mosley said. "I think it's very unhealthy that there's no new blood in Formula 1. The barriers to entry are way too high. You just can't do it. No one can go out today with a private team and get the money, so it's impossible and we must change that."
Mosley says that while cost-cutting is important the traditions of the sport must be protected, including technical innovation and he continues to argue in favour of KERS, saying that this is the kind of development that is the future of the sport.
But he also hopes that changes to the rules will improve the show. The teams were allowed to do the work on the new cars to see if overtaking would improve.
"If it doesn't then that will be finally be the end of the teams experts advising us on the rules because we've got the three top people ... and if it hasn't worked we'll find other means."
If necessary Mosley says that the FIA will cut through arguments by claiming force majeure because of the economic crisis.
"Anybody can go to court and dispute it, but I cannot see a judge saying: 'You are completely wrong. You should allow these people to go bankrupt, or what on earth are you doing?'"
Mosley believes that the money available to the teams will reduce more quickly than that cost-cutting.
"If that turns out to be the case then there isn't going to be a compromise because it is that way or no way," he said. "I think we would end up then with very few cars on the grid in 2010."
Mosley says that if he will allowed to get his proposals through that there will be 12 teams on the grid in 2010.
The overall impression from Mosley's comments is that whether he stays or goes in October, he wants to ensure that F1 is completely redefined to become a different animal to the sport today. He believes that F1 has been the victim of a classic bubble mentality and that the bubble has now burst.
This would give him a legacy other than the sex scandal. And therein, perhaps, lies the motivation. Much has been destroyed but he hopes to bow out, sooner or later, with dignity and having left an indelible mark on the sport: a mark that no sex scandal can wipe out. There are some who argue that Mosley should have gone when the scandal broke but he did not. The fact that he went on to survive a vote within the FIA showed that he is a master of politicking within his empire, but if the result is that we end up with a better and more sustainable sport, then the Mosley Scandal will have served a good purpose for the sport.